As a baby boomer, I have to say that I get tired of my contemporaries describing the newest working generation as slackers, unwilling to pay their dues (mainly because it resonates with my own impatience when I first entered the workplace).
The other complaints I hear constantly about Generation Y is that they text constantly, seek short cuts, dress inappropriately and they are overly confident and high maintenance. Additionally, they are willing to share opinions and expect us to care—and respond—and quickly.
A study released in 2008 found college students more narcissistic and self-centered than any preceding generation. And now, they are working side by side with us: how’s that working out?
I spent several years helping to plan and implement a large-scale Diversity Initiative in a major U.S. company, where I was actually trained to understand and value differences as the fastest route to the best solution. So, I can’t help feeling that we older generations are totally missing the opportunity here.
And, as a person who prefers to focus on the positive side, I see so much that I like and admire in the Millennial Generation. Here are just six things:
- Millennials seem to view the so-called “soft skills,” such as team building, collaboration and partnership, as essential to leadership. In my experience, the soft skills are actually the hard skills to develop—at least in terms of the attention, effort and intention it takes to do so.
- Millennials recognize that diversity brings new perspectives, ideas and insights—all of which adds value to any organization, large or small.
- Millennials consider themselves citizens of the world, largely because that is their context, with instant access to anything anytime anywhere – really, how cool is that?
- Millennials are lifelong learners. They are looking for personal enrichment, challenge and the opportunity to learn and grow and contribute on a daily basis. This is such a core value of mine and it has paid off for me in very big ways, I cannot help but endorse this philosophy.
- Millennials expect more balance in life, greater career satisfaction and better relationships. And, if it’s not working, they will make the changes required to get what they want. I say, Bravo! Some of us fought hard to make more choices possible and I, for one, am delighted that it is working.
- Millennials believe they can make the world a better place. And I believe it too.
Millennials are unlike preceding generations. They view the world differently and have redefined the meaning of success—personally and professionally.
They will have a major impact on the workplace of the future, not to mention the economy as a whole. They will rewrite the rules and bring about new paradigms.
My generation – the boomers – made and moved markets. We have been an economic force for many years now. The Millennials will be doing the same thing, only more quickly and more dramatically. Good.